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The Situation Room

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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Us 26, Washington 18, Michigan 16, U.s. 15, Cnn 11, America 10, Cia 10, Lindsey Graham 7, Susan Rice 7, John Mccain 7, Obama 7, Osama Bin 6, Geico 6, Benghazi 6, Lisa 6, Cairo 5, Wolf Blitzer 5, North Korea 5, Afghanistan 5, Hilary 4,
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  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    December 11, 2012
    1:00 - 3:59pm PST  

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sickness. that nurse was found dead days later. the deejays have since made a tearful apology and have been taken off the air. a london autopsy is being be carried out on the nurse today. and before i let you go, i just want to remind you that any interviews that you missed or that i'm tweeting about, many times you ask me about it, you can find them. go to the brooke blog. go to cnn dotcom cnn.com/brooke. and that will do it for mae her in atlanta. "the situation room" with wolf blitzer begins now. thanks very much, brooke. happening now, thousands of angry demonstrators swarm michigan state capital for a fight over labor unions. here in washington, republicans turn the tables on president obama. we're going to tell you what specific information they are now demanding. and who was she? you're going to find out why a
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century's old mystery may be closer to a solution. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin with today's dramatic defeat for union workers in the industrial's heartland. this was the scene as republicans pushed through right to work bills saying that they don't have to pay union dues in in order to get a job. on lookers chanted, shame on you after the vote. this is a watershed moment because michigan is the same as countless union struggles, including this 1932 march where five people died and dozens were injured when unemployed workers were attacked by police and ford
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motor company security guards. after decades of gains, fewer than 12% of u.s. workers now belong to unions. in michigan, it's fewer than 18%. cnn's poppy harlow is at the state capital in lansing. how did it go? >> reporter: are an historic day in michigan. a state at the heart of organized labor in this country. one person said, if it can happen in michigan, it can happen everywhere and that's why thousands and thousands of protesters descended on the state capital fighting this legislation, which will make it legal in this state for people to work at an auto company or in public schools without being part of the union. it will be illegal for a unions or employers to mandate that employees join the union or pay any money to the union. this brings into question, what is the future of unions in america?
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today i had a chance to talk to the person at the heart of that debate, bob king. here is his take. does this mean the beginning of sort of a death of unions in this country? are you concerned that this is that big symbolically? >> reporter: n. >> no. i think that workers and working families are tired of losing. they want a fair share of the prosperity and i think that's going to help build the union movement. >> reporter: also today, wolf, we talked to thousands and thousands of protesters, many of them union workers. even those exempt from this legislation came here to be heard, including firefighters and police officers. here's the take of ted, a firefighter in detroit. you're exempt from this right to work legislation. why are you here? >> that's correct. we are as of right now exempt of this legislation but it doesn't
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change the fact that we want to be here to support our brothers and sisters in the union because we are also union and the fact that our parents and grandparents andreat gra grandparents, they struggled and fought and some of them died for better wages for their children. >> poppy is with us. first of all, i meant to call you poppy. i called you kate. you're pop poppy in all of our eyes. let me ask you this about michigan workers. there are some who actually support this new legislation. >> reporter: they do. that's a very good point, wolf. it's a minority. you have the majority of union workers that are fighting this because they think it's going to be lower wages, less bargaining power. but i spoke with a former union worker who was with ford for 16 years. i met with him first this summer when we were here in michigan covering the election and the campaign here.
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he's been fighting for two years to get this right to work legislation passed and here's why. you support the right to work legislation but you're going to stay a member of the union and pay those union dues. >> that's right. >> reporter: so what changes for you now? >> it will give me a voice. it will give me leverage inside the union. under current law, i can retire but i still have to pay the union so they don't care. >> reporter: and that's what is critical in all of this, wolf. the unions are going to have to make a very good case to every worker out there that they should join, that they should pay dues in order for people to become part of the union. i want to pan over and just show you what is happening now, wolf. this is outside of governor rick snyder's office. there has been a sit-in in the
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governor's office, a sit-in until the media was removed from the entry of the governor's office. so the debate is is not over but this is the law of the land, just a pen stroke away from being the law of the land here in the state of michigan. incredibly symbolic for this country and organized labor in america. >> all right. poppy is on the scene for us in lansing michigan. here in washington, everyone's eyes are on the calendar. this friday, the house of representatives is supposed to break for the holidays. christmas is exactly two weeks from today. so when are we going to get a deal on taxes and spending cuts? our senior congressional correspondent dana bash is up on capitol hill. what are you hearing, dana? >> reporter: the senate majority leader who told me he's one of the biggest pessimists says he thinks it's going to be very difficult to get a deal done by christmas. meanwhile, republicans don't have a lot of opposition to
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raising the tax rates tried a different tactic today. a new coordinated message from republicans searching for more secure political footing. mr. president, show us your cuts. >> where are the president's spending cuts? the longer the white house slow-walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff. >> nobody should trust democrats to put a dime until real deficit reductions. >> reporter: to better understand the gop positioning, remember what any reduction deficit looks like drawn from two different pots of money. first, tax revenue. second, spending cuts likely to center on changes to entitlements like medicare. on revenues, republicans already conceded to tax increases for the wealthy. the big sticking point is what kind and how much. since that is angering many on the right who oppose any tax increases, republicans want democrats to take the heat for
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entitlement cuts by proposing them first so republicans don't face the wrath of seniors, too. remember this 2011 ad depicting paul ryan throwing granny off the cliff? the white house says it's republicans who haven't offered specifics and the president has. >> very specific spending cuts, including savings in entitlement programs. again, i -- it's not a mystery. we've seen this before. this is the document. >> reporter: that document is last year's white house recommendations to the supercommittee. a democratic source simply noted that boehner met with the president for 40 minutes on sunday and they didn't spend that time talking golf and football. today, much of the focus has been on public discord. democrats are hardly united. >> we get nervous in our caucus, don't we, about these secret meetings.
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>> reporter: the president has his work cut out for him, getting some in his own party to agree to a deal that includes significant cuts in changes to safety net programs. >> to all of why you negotiators negotiating on this so-called fiscal cliff and stuff, keep your hands off medicare and keep your hands off medicaid. >> we're not budging on medicare and we're not budging on medicaid. >> on taxes, a democratic source tells cnn they also won't budge on raising tax rates for families making $250,000 or more but could ultimately accept something short of the 39.6% tax rate democrats campaigned on. still, the senate's top democrat wasps mystic about a deal in the next 14 days. >> i think it's going to be extremely difficult to get it done before christmas. >> reporter: now, wolf, part of that pessimism could be coming from the fact that i'm told that these talks are slow-going, that they haven't even started talking about the nitty gritty, how much to cut in medicare, how
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much to raise in taxes. because the first thing they want to do, processwise, is get top line numbers for spending cuts and also for those tax increases. and that's no small thing, as you know. just on the tax side, for example, republicans have proposed $800 billion in new tax revenue. the president has proposed double that. i'm told over the past few days they have gone back and forth. republicans had been optimistic that the white house would come down a little bit, maybe to 1.2 or 1.4. but they still say it's not where republicans want it. >> they are still negotiating, trying to negotiate a deal. dana, thank you. if they don't make a deal, you will start feeling the pain in only 21 days. taxes will go up by more than half a trillion dollars. every u.s. household will start giving the government another 2 to $3,500 a year. 90% of us will see our taxes going up. but up to $110 billion in across the board cuts in government
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spending will also kick in. half of the cuts, about $55 billion, comes from the defense budget. the other 55 billion come from nondefense programs, like health care, education, housing assistance. our chief political analyst gloria borger has been looking at all of these numbers. the dire consequences of going over the cliff, is it enough to force a deal? >> no. and that's what is sort of striking about it. when you talk to some liberal democrat, they actually say, you know what, maybe it's better to go off the cliff because you get the defense spending cuts that dana was talking about and the tax cuts for the wealthy expire. you can always restore the tax cuts for the middle class. she talked to some republicans, they say a bad deal is not what we want. they don't want any deal. and then, of course, you talk to the american public as we keep doing here. and the american public, take a look at this, they believe that if there is no deal, it would
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have a negative impact on their financial situation. i think the real problem here, wolf, is that every politician understands that they are going to get criticized if there is a deal. so what's going on right now is that they are positioning themselves so that their constituencies believe that they worked their very hardest to try and get the deal that's best for them. again, we see a lot of these positioning going on and as dana pointed out, much behind closed doors. >> i've been around washington for a long time and whenever they get in this situation, there's always a temptation to kick the can down the road, a punt and leave it for another day. >> they are very good at punlting. >> yes. >> they may well do that again. they could pass an extension of the tax cuts for the middle class but not the wealthy. i mean, i keep having to remind myself that the reason we're in this situation is because they punted once before. in july 2011 there was the debt
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ceiling debate and they set up this fiscal cliff for themselves because they knew that they only act in a crisis situation. so they set up this crisis and the question is whether they now have this cliff, are they going to actually move the cliff because they can't even act in a crisis. that is their own doing. i mean -- >> not much time left. >> gloria, thanks very much. >> yep. >> one of the biggest guessing games here in washington is who will replace treasury secretary timothy geithner. i'm going to ask robert ruben who should get the vital job. also, we're going live to egypt. we're going to find out why massive protests have broken out again. you're looking at live pictures coming in from cairo. [ male announcer ] when was the last time something made your jaw drop? campbell's has 24 new soups that will make it drop over, and over again. ♪
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as president obama begins his second term, we're expecting major changes in his cabinet. almost know one is talking about who may get one of the most important jobs replacing timothy geithner. a little while ago i spoke with the clinton treasury secretary robert ruben. who would you like to see as the next treasury secretary? we know tim geithner is moving on. >> i would like to see as the next treasury secretary whoever the president picks. but let me just say, if i may, one comment on that. it is a broad and complex job and while it is certainly possible that you may find someone who has never been in washington 20 do that job, i think this are many advantages to finding someone who has had washington experience. i think if the president chooses outside of that, that range of people, he could find someone who doesn't have that experience. i just think there's an advantage of having had it.
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>> you were on wall street at goldman sachs and came to washington. correct me if i'm wrong, did you have a whole lot of washington experience before that? >> no, but i spent two years in the white house, wolf, before i went to treasury, and i've always known that that two years of white house experience helped me prepare to be secretary treasury. without it, i probably would have, i think surely, actually, would have found it much more difficult to deal with the whole array of policy issues and questions of government process, dealing with the media, dealing with congress and so forth that i simply haven't had experience with even though i have found political campaign ads for a long time. i think they were enormously important in giving me the experience that was helpful then in being secretary. >> well, given the problems that the president has ha with some of your colleagues and friends on wall street, would it be wise to bring in someone with that wall street experience? >> i think i wouldn't look at it quite that way, wolf.
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i know what i would do. i would look at the requisites of the job and decide who i thought was best equipped to perform the functions of that job and i don't think i would worry about other kinds of what i would call sort of tangent tal issues that don't row late to this. a good number of people on wall street are supportive of president obama. given the quality of the people that he appointed to the economic team on the first round -- and it was a terrific group of people -- if you extrapolate from that, my guess is he will make an outstanding choice for secretary treasury this time. >> do you want to throw out a name? >> i could throw out names, wolf, but i think it's probably more constructive not to. >> i understand. thanks so much for joining us, robert rubin, former treasury secretary. appreciate you joining us. >> i've been delighted to be with you, wolf. >> that's just part of the interview, by the way, with
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secretary rubin. at 6:00 p.m., the former clinton aide, the full interview airs during our 6:00 p.m. hour. up next, a story that you you'll see first on cnn. the sweepstakes to replace the outgoing south carolina senator jim demint. and it's a person that may surprise you. [ singing christmas carols in background ] aunt sally's singing again. it's a tradition, honey. [ singing christmas carols ] mmmm.
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some interesting names on the short list for the soon to be vacant u.s. senate seat in south carolina, something you'll hear first right here on cnn. lisa sylvester is monitoring
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that and some of the other stories in "the situation room." lisa, what's going on? >> lisa, this might surprise a few folks but former first lady jenny sanford is among the candidates that nikki haley is considering filling the seat of retiring u.s. senator jim demint. having weathered the scandal of mark sanford who disappeared to see his girlfriend in argentina. calls for national unity in egypt where tensions remain high asaid of saturday's referendum vote on a divisive new constitution. it was drafted largely by allies of mohamed morsi. an egyptian spoke men said that they will aim at ending the political crisis. and a global call for countries to lift their hiv travel restrictions. 45 nations seen on this map have
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laws that deport, detain, or deny entry to people who are hiv positive. now companies like coca-cola and gap and from the nba say those travel bans are discriminatory and bad for business. until recently, the u.s., too, had regular layings that barred foreign nationals from receiving a visa from entering the country. president obama lifted that ban in 2010. and a chain of check stores is selling what they believe is the, yes, very last shipment of twinkies in the country. jewel said that hostess offered the entire shipment left in the georgia plant, including 20,000 boxes of twinkies and 5,000 boxes of ding dongs, zingers and you can buy them while supplies last but not for much longer. if you're thinking of the gift to give someone, just don't know
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what to get them, give them a twinkie. >> when wa the last time you had a twinkie? >> 10, 15 years ago. >> me, too. how about a ding dong or a zinger. >> i haven't had one. >> i haven't had one myself. >> i almost feel like buying a couple, storing it on the shelf to -- >> safe room downstairs in case of an emergency. lisa, thanks. the fiscal cliff talks have been happening. they are getting grief from some members of their own parties. does the public have a right to know what is going on behind closed doors? our strategy session is next. so we have ongoing webinars and interactive learning, plus, in-branch seminars at over 500 locations, where our dedicated support teams help you know more so your money can do more. [ rodger ] at scottrade, seven dollar trades are just the start. our teams have the information you want when you need it. it's another reason more investors are saying...
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plus, disturbing information about the owner of the plane who killed a lat tina superstar. stand by. you're in "the situation room." let's get right to our strategy session. joining us, the democratic strategist, hilary rosen and mary matalin. they are both making the case, get out from behind closed doors and negotiate the terms of the fiscal cliff deal in public. let's listen. >> i get nervous when two people disappear into a white house room and start making a grand alliance and they think, we're going to do this and get it out of the secret meetings and into
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the public venues to the american people and the congress themselves, we're responsible for making intelligent decisions. that should be done publicly. but at some point, after public debate and so forth, yes, private negotiations can help bridge the gap and bring us to a successful conclusion. >> mary, what do you think? will that be a kiss of death? >> i don't think there's time, wolf, the president has been dragging its feet. we have a few numbers of days left before we go off the fiscal cliff and taxes are raised for everybody. so speaker boehner knows a caucus, a serious, mature sober leader. he knows what his principles are. he's a principled conservative, a mainstream businessman and knows what the issues are.
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the house should and is largely trusting him. >> and what do you think about that, hilary? should the democrats trust the president to close the deal behind closed doors? >> i think democrats mostly trust the president. i don't know what mary's talking about that the president has dragged his heels. he's been trying to get congress to deal with this issue for months and months. but having said that, neither of these guys i think have the full faith and credit of their caucuses to do anything and that's what is taking so long. no democrats are pressing on the president to be careful on what he cuts on entitlements and folks like me would like to make sure that the defense cuts, you know, are substantially a part of this package. republicans, you know, are making a big deal out of that top 2% tax rate and so they both, i think, have a good sense of how far they can go. that's what is taking so long. it's not the secrecy part that's the problem.
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it's just that there's such a fundamental difference of ideology here. >> well, very quickly hilary, should they do this publicly or privately? >> i'm comfortable with them doing it privately because in any event they are going to have to unveil an agreed upon package and congress is going to -- there are rules in the congress which i do not think they are going to end up breaking about having enough days for this to be fully open and transparent for people to see what the deal is. this congress is too -- you know, is too ornary and self-interested to vote on a blind package. >> so you have confidence that they can do this behind closed doors? do you agree with hilary? >> in this sense that this is fiscal cliff, this is a political babookie dance. it's entitlement reform which is the driver of the debt and
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regulatory reform and all of the other reforms that are causing government to be in a position to implode on its self. that's going to hurt the middle class. yes, we have a fundamental difference. the president wants to raise taxes on the job creators when we have such a begrudging recovery, if we can even call it that. i don't think raising tacks on people who create jobs is going to create any more jobs. i don't see how whout shrinking the government that we're not going to have this debt. today's debt is tomorrow's taxes. it's immoral. and that should be -- that debate should be with a new congress and take place in a public way after the new congress assembles. >> hold on a moment. we're going to continue this conversation right after this, including three senators who usually agree on just about everything but now a new issue divides the so-called three
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amigos, senators john mccain, lindsey graham, and joe lieberman and it could be president obama's first big fight of his second term. we're going to tell you what is going on. employees are being forced to do more with less. and the need for capable leaders is greater than ever. when you see these problems do you take a step back, or do you want to dive right in? with a degree in business from capella university, you'll have the knowledge to go further in your career than you ever thought possible. let's get started at capella.edu
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going back to hilary rosen and mary matalin. piers morgan had the three amigos for a taping that will air later tonight. john mccain, lindsey graham, and joe lieberman. listen to this exchange on susan rice on whether the president nominates her she should be confirmed. >> on this one, we were going to prove that the three amigos
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cannot agree and still be amigos. i think the rest is up to the future and unfortunately i'll be watching it on tv. >> personally, don't think she would serve the country well in that capacity. >> i'm willing to give her the nomination process, but she's got a lot to prove. >> from a strictly partisan democratic political point of view, would it be wise for the president to pick this fight for two of those amigos and a whole bunch of other republicans? >> it's a great question, wolf. why would the president nominate susan rice if it's just going to make she's guys mad? but here are the facts. if the president has actually -- didn't nominate ambassador rice for that reason, we would essentially be giving in to a narrative.
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for that reason, giving in to a narrative which is just false. which is that somehow the administration withheld the information which they did not do. for john mccain and lindsey graham to go out and consistently turn this into an issue about susan rice i think says more about them than about her. they had their peak, lindsey graham has an election next year, he's worried about acting conservative. john mccain is just acting bitter and wants to find issues to find the president on. if the president needs to make a decision based on who he thinks will be the best secretary of state. but this issue, i think about libya and susan rice, has gone way far enough. she doesn't have anything to prove. >> go ahead, mary. >> it's not about libya. it's not about benghazi, which we now know the facts are that the administration handled very, very badly. what senator lieberman said is
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right. this is not about a sunday morning talk show. it's not about whether or not senators mccain and others are upset at the president. if you look at her u.n. record and, more importantly, her state department record, senator albright was furious with her and put her on probation. she has a terrible record among professional diplomats in the same -- i don't know if she was a terrible desk officer from ethiopia, genocide, which is the president says is one of his greatest regrets or mistakes, those were all on his watch. if she did such a terrible job there, how can she be a secretary? >> the president has been able to rehash that old garbage that mary is talking about. they have not done so now. they are talking about trumped-up charges and old regrets and on issues that, you know, would come out in a nomination hearing if she is nominated but i would just say,
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as an ambassador to the u.n., she's done an excellent job. she's served our country well and president obama ought to be able to make the choice based on who he wants as secretary of state. >> president clinton has told me on several occasions, mary and hilary, his greatest regret as far as being a president on a policy issue is that he failed to do anything as far as rwanda and the generocide that goes on. >> he blames himself. >> he knew what was going on. he made that decision not to intervene and 800,000 or so people were slaughtered as a result of that. i went with him to those countries in 1998. susan rice was with me on that trip as well as assistant secretary for african affairs. he blames himself. >> to retroactively turn that on susan rice is ridiculous. >> that's a former situation that obviously the former
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president of the united states knows very, very well. piers morgan will have the full interview tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern. i think you're going to want to watch this important interview. piers is going to join us in our 6:00 p.m. eastern hour as well. both egyptians that despise the government are venting on the streets.
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thousands of people hit the streets of cairo today both for and against the government. its facing huge tests this week. voters are deciding whether to
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approve a new constitution. that happens on saturday. reza sayeh is joining us from the capitol. what is going on, reza? >> right now there are still people at the presidential palace. a lot of people believe there were no clashes because there was a potential for an ugly night because both of these sides of this conflict once again calls for mass demonstration. the opposition and opponent of president morsi culminated outside the presidential's palace. there's the muslim brotherhood, supporters who gathered in mass. the big question was, would these two sides crash like they did last week? it was an ugly scene last week outside the palace. these two sides brawled it out. nearly 700 injured and several
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people killed. thankfully tonight there was no violence. the opposition came out because they still reject the process by which the constitution was done. they don't want the vote on saturday. the president's supporters saying the best way to solve this conflict is to go out for the vote on the constitution on saturday, wolf. >> so that referendum will definitely take place on saturday despite all of the protesters who wanted to be delayed or never wanted it to happen at all. >> all indications are that the referendum is going to go on its plan and i think the opposition is looking to tomorrow. that's when the opposition leaders are scheduled to announce their decision whether they are going to take part in the referendum or not. if they come out and say yes, we'll take part, there's certainly the potential to diffuse this conflict. if they say no, if they continue to reject this process, certainly the conflict can go on. >> reza sayah, thanks very much.
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>> a secretive new drone into space, we know what it looks like but it's a mission that is slouded in mystery. john zarrella is joining us from miami. what do we know? >> reporter: it launched about 1:00 p.m. eastern time. the top third of that rocket is where the x37b was encased. it looks like a space shuttle. in fact, it was originally designed by nasa and was going to be flown inside of a space shuttle's cargo's base until it was taken over by the defense department and then the air force. every time one of these things flies, two m them have flown before, one in 2010 and one in 2011, there is a hunl amount of speculation that comes up. people believe that one of the
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thing they say is that this thing could be an anti-satellite weapon, a weapon in space that could shoot down satellites. others think it could be an on-demand satellite itself. in other words, if they need to move a satellite to get a quick look somewhere, this could do it. the air force says none of that is true. that this vehicle is just an airborne platform. it flies 200 miles up, orbits the earth, the same way that space shuttles did but they are testing new technology, everything from command and control to avionics, the heat shielding, things that will be used in military applications but down the road. the problem is, wolf, a lot of those folks out there that are the conspiracy theorists are not buying it. they think that the x-37 is a lot more than that. in fact, the last one that flew, flew for 469 days. 15 months in space before it landed autonomously back at the
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air force base in california. wolf? >> we have no idea how long this one is going to stay up there? >> no idea, wolf. no idea if it's going to be a longer or shorter mission or what exactly. but you know, there are a lot of countries around the world whose intelligence agencies sure would like to know about it as well. >> speculation continues. >> exactly. >> thank you very much. at the top of the hour, we're getting new information on a missing american citizen? north korea. first, a look lighter look at the day's headlines. >> killed by a drone in pakistan, al qaeda's number three men announced he's stepping down to spend more time with his family. drug and alcohol abuse is up. and those dealing with grief don't have access to the professional help they need. when you see these issues, do you want to walk away or step up?
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politics provided no shortage of material for the late-night comics from the south carolina senate seat to the white house christmas card. anything was fair game. >> they love me because i love it. i love the beaches. i love the mountains. i love the beautiful old estates that have no negative historical connotation whatsoever. of course, not everybody is happy about my imminent appointment. they called me vastly overqualified and not as crazy as senator jim demint. what? i am as at least as crazy as senator jim demint. he wanted to ban gay teachers from the classroom. i want to ban teachers from the classroom with their knowledge agenda. i say let the free market decide
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what the atomic weight of carbon is. >> any fight fans? did you watch the fight this weekend? good god. yeah. that was craze glee. over the weekend, did you know this, mitt romney met manny pacquiao just for pacquiao lost to marquez. yeah. afterwards romney told pacquiao, you lost for the same reason i did, young hispanics. >> the white house released their annual holiday card. it's a very realistic painting. it's bo, the white house dog. that's the original photo. it was a little too colorful. very colorful. i think bo might be getting into the obama supply of centrum. >> it's hard to believe that according to the mayans in 11
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days we will all be dead. the mayans have predicted that the world will come to an end on the 21st, which is a friday. how much does that suck? end it on a monday. at least you get the weekend, right? got to work all day and then friday, you're dead on friday. in our history, there's no mystery more enduring that the mona lisa. researchers are not trying to piece together the puzzle. that's easier said than done as ben wedeman found out. >> reporter: this has perplexed historians for centuries. the priceless masterpiece, the mona lisa. in the frigid bows of what was once a convent in florence, a research is leading the project
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to find and identify the remains of the woman who polesed for did i vin tea more than 500 years ago. lisa, other known as mona lisa, was buried. beyond that, it's all a mystery. the remains of five females have been found here. the skull may be that of lisa, the second wife of a wealthy silk merchant. the remains will be identified with two remains buried elsewhere. no other likeness of hers has ever been found given that da vinci spent years, she bears no resemblance to the mona lisa. once we identify the remains, we can reconstruct the face with the margin of error of 2 to 8%. by doing this, we'll finally be able to answer the question the
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art historians can't. who was the model for leonardo. the smile on the other hand will probably remain a mystery. he claims scientific analysis suggests the smile came later. when, he says, leonardo began painting the model in front of him, he didn't paint that elusive smile, but rather he painted a person that was dark and depressed. the smile may belong to da vinci's long-time assistance and some believe lover. while other art historians claim the painting was actuay a self-portrait. so we may never know if the
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smile was as to temft a lover or to con found humanity. ben wedeman, florence, italy. >> you will have to head to paris where it's hanging at the museum. you're in the situation room. happening now, cooking up an explosive recipe for war. a bomb maker fighting the homemade grenades. plus, supreme court justice incites political controversy with comments that some consider rather anti-gay. >> and disturbing new allegations about the owner of the plane that crashed the superstar latina. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room.
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>> he was the elite of the elite. soaring to the top of the u.s. special forces unit known for taking out osama bin laden and achieving a near lifelong goal many could only dream of training for. now we're learning more about the u.s. navy s.e.a.l. who died in that successful mission to rescue an american held captive in afghanistan. brian todd is in that navy s.e.a.l.'s home town. what are you learning about him? >> reporter: people in this town of north huntington and adjoining town of irvin are reeling from this loss. they say the focus and determination that nicolas checque demonstrated was very apparent when he went to this high school and even earlier. he died doing what he dreamed about since middle school. and his last operation was a success.
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28-year-old nicolas checque from the elite s.e.a.l. team 6, the lone u.s. casualty tony says he dreaded this day. still -- >> i never thought anything like that could happen to him. because he was always smarter, always faster. he was always so dedicated and, you know, it just blew my mind when it happened. >> reporter: he played football and wrestled with him at the high school outside pittsburgh. he and another teammate, now the assistant principal, remember him as a no-nonsense kid. >> you had to go up against him at practice. what was that like? >> when you got tired towards the end, he was one of the kids that didn't slow down, didn't give him. >> reporter: nick checque was
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known as a good wrestler but not a stuperstar. an operation that nick got that didn't have anything to do with wrestling but had everything to do with nick's determination and his goals. >> yeah, he had lasik eye surgery when he was a junior in high school. >> why that? >> to weed out any come pli plications or any doubt that anyone would have for him to succeed in the s.e.a.l.s. >> reporter: a four-year honor student who never thought about going to college, checque went straight into the navy in high school and in ten years served in iraq and afghanistan. he was awarded the bronze star and other commendations and made it to the unit he had set his sights on oh. now the loss is just sinking in for a friend who says nick checque inspired him to join the navy, to spend ten years of his life there and to now go to
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college. >> s.e.a.l.t. team 6, to know what he did, see how far he got, yeah. it's amazing. absolutely. >> reporter: we could not get nicolas checque's parents or two sisters to speak with us. although he was a member of s.e.a.l. team 6, it's not clear if he was on the raid that killed osama bin laden. 65 navy s.e.a.l.s have been killed since september 11th, 2001, most of them in afghanistan. >> so that high school has really femt the pain of that conflict. talk a little bit about that, brian. >> reporter: it sure has, wolf. nicolas checque now becomes the second graduate of the high school here in north huntington to be killed in afghanistan in
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the last few months and also in a pretty high-profile battle. back on september 15th a. gentleman named lieutenant colonel christopher "on the tis" raible was killed in the attack where the militants were dressed and a counter dzattack led by christopher raible. he was a graduate also here in north huntington, pennsylvania. this community has really felt the brunt of it. >> brian todd is there in north pennsylvania for us. thank you. turning to syria, the united states insists that the rebel group is is a terrorist will not weaken the regime. sanctions were slapped on the leader of the group only hours after it was back listed by the state department. our senior international
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correspondent arwa damon is inside syria with an extraordinary look at one rebel fighting the battle with an exclusive homemade recipe. >> reporter: with the precision of a master chef, he adjusts the flame. in the pan, table sugar and a chemical compound bought locally that we've agreed not to name. it's almost ready, he says, as the color darkens. he doesn't want his face shown. he has decades of experience in the art of war. he says he fought with the palestinians twice by the israelis in the 1980s. but they had more mercy than the assad regime. he adds bitterly.
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now he's using his training and weapons design that he got in libya. this amount combined with another substance is what he uses to make a single grenade. when it comes to making the prop pell lants for a rocket, it's around 20 times this amount and two more substances are included. he now works alone after his assistant was killed while they were experimenting. he's designed crude but effective grenades and his biggest accomplishment, a sleek looking rocket which he claims has a rage of 12 kilometers. much of what he uses comes from unexploded order nants like this and clearly marked on this rocket, made in russia. when he first started, he tells us, he would modify exploded rockets. from here to here, for example, it's our adjustment as are the
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fins, he says. we would shoot one and it would just go three kilometers or it would turn back around in our direction. now he designs from scratch. mixing a substance he won't reveal but that it's imported from outside with the explosive he extracts from the government's artillery. he may be the master bombmaker but he says he's a man of peace. he wants to see a democratic syria that reflects this nation's rich diversity and he believes that after the assad regime falls, there will be another evolution to purge this one of extremists and opportunists. arwa damon, cnn. >> we're getting new information coming in to "the situation room" right now. u.s. officials reporting that an american citizen has been detained in north korea now for over a month. let's bring in he wielise who i getting details for us.
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what do we know? >> the man's name is kenneth bay and we believe he's a korean-american. he's been detained for over a month. he has been in and out of north korea. south korean media reports state that is he a tour operator and one of the people on his tour had a computer disk with sensitive information about north korea. state department doesn't want to state more at this point because of privacy concerns. >> what are they trying to do to get him released? >> well, the swedish embassy, which is the u.s. protecting power in north korea is working it trying to get him released and also trying to get what they call access visit with him. no information that he's been mistreated but the state department doesn't really want to say any more, not only because of privacy concerns but to jeopardize the chance of getting him out.
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two years ago korean journalists were held. it went all the way for president clinton to go and negotiate his release. we're being told that nothing of that sort is in the offering. just the swedes. >> let's hope that they release him very soon. thanks very much. sandy may have come and gone but the mold doesn't seem to be going away. what hundreds of homeowners are doing to fight it and the health problems that it brings. what allegedly happened moments after the car crash that killed a dallas cowboy. >> you can't just stand here and watch this man die. pull him out of the car. and he said to me he won't get out. i said, get him out of the -- you know, commanding him, get him out of the car.
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cnn has just learned that house republican leaders have sent the white house a counteroffer on tax and entitlement reform. let's bring in our capitol hill senior correspondent dana bash who's got the details. what have we learned? >> we learned that, as you said, the republicans have sent to the white house an offer that they describe as something that is significant with regard to tax and entitlement reform. of course, those are the two tranches that we're talking about here. they are being very -- holding their cards very close to the vest in terms of what specifics these are but apparently it's a counteroffer to something the white house sent to them yesterday. we don't know the details. this is good news for both sides. republicans saying earlier that the white house has to give them more spending cuts. but this is really key because the first thing they have to do, wolf, is get those top line numbers. they are not talking specifics,
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what kind of tax rates, how much to do. they are really first talking about, well, how much when it comes to revenue increases are we going to agree to? how much when it comes to entitlement cuts are we going to agree to and sources are saying that they hope that things will fall into place from there because the numbers determine what they can and cannot do. the fact that they are talking is a good sign. >> the white house want 1.6 trillion in additional tax revenue. the republicans want 800 billion. split the difference, you get, what? 1.2 and you've got a deal. >> see how easy that is. they should bring you into this. >> the difference between what you're selling and offering. that's it. dana bash, thank you very much. the conservative supreme court justice anthony scalia playing defense when it comes to his views on homosexuality. a student asked him why he considered sodomy laws to
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biestialit yes and murder he said, it's a form of argument which is called the reduction to the absurd. and to say that we can not have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder, against these other things? of course we can. i'm not comparing homosexuality to murder. i'm comparing the principle that the society cannot adopt moral sanctions moral views against sexual conduct. i'm comparing that with respect to murder, with respect to homosexuality, polygamy, whatever you'd like. jeffrey toobin is author of "the oath: the obama white house and the supreme court." so what exactly does he mean? you've studied justice scalia. you have studied the law. when he talks about the reduction to the absurd. >> well, it's actually a very interesting controversy that may be changing before our very eyes, wolf. because historically one of the grounds that congress can pass a
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law is they say, we morally disapprove. moral disapproval is not an aprop pree grounds for a government action but over time the court has said certain kinds of moral disapproval is no longer allowed. you can't simply disapprove of blacks and whites going to school together and pass a law. the question now is, is moral disapproval of homosexuality a legitimate ground for the government doing anything? that's really one of the main issues in this case coming out. >> that's his argument, that that's why he's opposed to it? is that what you're saying? >> well, what he's saying is that the legislature, whether it's a state legislature or congress can say we morally disapprove of homosexuality, thus we will say they can't get married the way heterosexuals
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can. that that's a legitimate ground for government action. that's a question that is really very much before the supreme court right now, which is, is moral disapproval alone a legitimate basis for a government to act. >> i understand the intellectual legal argument he's making on this point but it sounds to the layperson out there that he's comparing homosexuality to beastiality or to murder. >> and he is. he is making that comparison. he can throw in all of the latin words he want but he is making that comparison. but that's his position. i mean, his position is, moral disapproval of homosexuality, of beastiality, of murder is a legitimate ground for government action and the question is, do four other justices agree with him? historically at the supreme court he has had several justices with him. it's unclear whether he will have fifth time and it's also unclear whether he should be
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expressing himself this way with such an important guy rights case, you know, right in front of the court. >> because some people are saying already he should recuse himself from this decision. is that in all of the cards? >> you know, it not. the supreme court is different from other federal courts. there are to formal rules about justices recusing themselves. it's completely on the honor system. it's up to the justices when they feel they have a conflict. justice scalia speak out all the time on controversial issues. there is absolutely no way he is going to recuse himself and there's no vehicle, no remedy that people who are upset about it can protest about it. so he's in this case for better or worse. >> jeffrey toobin, thanks very much. unemployed and desperate. what falling off the fiscal cliff will mean for million of americans who are out of work. stay with us. you're in "the situation room."
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there is lots of speculation about the health of hugo chavez. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other stories in "the situation room." what's the latest, lisa? >> hugo chavez is in cuba. he has just undergone surgery and that's the word from ecuador's president, chavez's ally, who called it a very delicate situation. he run re-election in october after declaring himself cancer-free a few months before. the socialist leader has endorsed his vice president as a possible political successor. and delta airlines is buying a stake in virgin atlantic airlines on lucrative flights
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between the united states and the united kingdom. branson will keep a 51% stake in his company. the deal expands the international reach of delta, now the number two u.s. airline. and if you're a fan of hair straightening treatments, you might want to take note of this story. safety questions are being raised again. this time by three democratic lawmakers. they accuse manufacturers of lying about the levels of officer mall da hide in their products and they are calling for removal that pose health risks from the market. and the australian radio station that made the prank will now do nate more than $500,000 to the nurse's family. that nurse was found dead of an apparent suicide after two deejays duped her into giving out information about catherine. they have since apologized. that is just a sad story, wolf,
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all the way around. very sad. >> lisa, thank you. it's a story that every football fan is talking about. a dallas cowboys player killed in a car crash while his drunk teammate was behind the wheel. now new details are emerging which may shock you about what really happened only moments after the accident. [ sniffs ] i have a cold. [ sniffs ] i took dayquil but my nose is still runny. [ male announcer ] truth is, dayquil doesn't treat that. really? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your runny nose. [ breathes deeply ] awesome. [ male announcer ] yes, it is. that's the cold truth!
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chevy's giving more at the year-end event because 'tis the season. chevy's giving more. this holiday season, get a 2013 cruze ls for around $149 per month or get $500 holiday bonus cash. it started with the fierce controversy over her public response to the deadly attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya. now the growing backlash against susan rice as a possible contender secretary of state includes new questions about africa and iraq. dan lothian is over at the white house. he has the latest information. dan, what is the white house doing? are they standing by her? >> reporter: well, they are, wolf. i spoke with a senior white house official who says that the criticisms are deeply unfair, suggested that opposition researchers out there are
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pushing the information, information that is fueling the fire that hasn't died down. at the state department, the clock is ticking. hillary clinton is going to retire at the end of next month and susan rice is at the top of the short list to replace her. >> what is the hold up? >> there is no hold up. president has made no decision and i have nothing to announce today. >> reporter: but with that comes the loudest voice, none other than john mccain, who jumped in the fray again on piers morgan tonight. >> there are now additional concerns about her role as far as africa is concerned. >> reporter: senator mccain, who is seeking a seat on the foreign relations committee touched on concerns voiced by human rights advocates about her close tie to
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some african leaders and the u.s. response to war crimes by rebels in the democratic republic of congo. add that to the actions after the benghazi attacks. >> she not only gave wrong information, but she gave the party line. >> reporter: then there's the controversy over major investments that rice and her husband hold in trans canada, the company seeking to build the pipeline. >> we need for the next secretary of state to be completely unburdened of any interest that could present any conflict or the appearance of a conflict. >> reporter: even her position on the invasion of iraq is being questioned, whether she was for it or against it. so is there a white house strategy to hold off on a decision until rice is vetted in the court of public opinion? aides aren't playing the game of hypotheticals since rice has not yet been nominated. but some doubt any of this will matter in the end. >> if he nominates susan rice, i
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think he will get her through the senate. it will be contentious. i just don't think the republicans can afford to be in a position where you have a black woman facing a tough fight for an older white guy. >> reporter: aides will talk about a timeline for a nomination. cnn is hearing that a decision, a national security announcement could be made as early as next week. i asked jay carney about all of this today and he simply said that the president was engaging in discussions about some of these personnel decisions. wolf? >> dan lothian at the white house, thanks very much. let's talk about this and more with the chairman of the republican national committee, reince priebus who is joining us now. thanks very much for coming in. >> hey, wolf. nice to see you. >> what did you think of what david gergen just said, that it would look bad for republicans to go after a younger african-american woman, especially at a sensitive time like this after the election? >> i don't think skin color has
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anything to do with this. as chairman of the party, i don't really weigh in on nag national security issues like that and that's why we have lindsey graham and others. particularly at the tail end of the election, there were questions about what happened at benghazi and how the state department and susan rice and the white house were on the same page. wolf, generally those are questions for the leadership in the senate. it's really not a place that the chairman of the party gets too involved with. >> let's talk a little bit about what you are directly involved with. yesterday you announced the major -- i don't know if you want to call it autopsy, postmortem, whatever, looking at what happened -- >> you guys love that phrase. >> you put together a commission. we had ari fleischer, one of our cnn contributors, on that commission. and looking at the ground game,
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messaging, fundraising, demographics, third parties campaign finance, presidential primaries. here's the question. are you going to be looking at substantive policy issues that you approved of the convention in tampa, are policy issues subject to review to see if maybe that should change in order to bring back some voters? >> well, wolf, i mean, i think ultimately -- i think where we're at is that a lot of things went well for team romney. in other words, they did a lot of things well. it was an eight-month basic campaign on their side. the only problem is that the other side did a lot of things well for four years. the question is for the rnc. i mean, just our piece of the puzzle here, what do we need to do in the next two and four years to be better in all of the areas that you outlined? now, as far as policy is concerned, i mean, i think ari is right. i saw him on your show. this is not a committee to
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recommend policy changes to the leadership in the legislature. we have a platform. but i do think that messaging plays a role and i think that ari hit the nail on the head and i think candidate recruitment, what to say and how to say it, i think we can inspire with love and i think that that's something that we can do a better job of. but these are the things, wolf, that this committee is going to be looking at. it's not recommending actual policy changes to the legislature but what can we do as a committee to be better in all of those areas. >> well, probably one thing you could do is getting a lot of a advice, including from a bunch of republicans, in order to attract hispanic voters out there, the president got re-elected in part because he got 40% more hispanic voters than romney got is to support comprehensive immigration reform. would that be smart right now for republicans? >> i'm going to let the
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legislature deal with that, wolf. obviously it a hop topic. we have republicans involved in coming up with different level levels of path way and what that means. i think what it means for us, just to put it in context for you, my guess is, at the end of this you're going toave an rnc and a republican team that decides that we need to get a whole lot more granular in our approach across the country, which means that we're going to have to be in a four-year cycle, having lots of people around the country doing registration drives in hispanic communities, going door to door, going to community events, going to naturalization services and then coming up with a system of how you measure that success over a four-year period of time. my guess is, that's the direction we're going. much more granular, long-term, and a sustained presence on the ground. not just for eight months but for years to come. >> the popular louisiana
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governor bobby jindal, a republican, he gave an interview to politico the other day. i'm sure you saw it. among other things, he said this about the state of the republican party. he said, it's not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party but it can't be tolerated within our party. we've also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. we need to stop being simplistic. we need to trust the instel generals of the american people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters. what do you think of his advice? >> well, i think we're pretty clear on some of the dumb things that were said over the last cycle. but, you know, i love bobby. i think he's doing a great job as rga chairman and i can't disagree with a lot of the things that he says. i think that how you communicate, how you inspire, how you message, how you talk about freedom and liberty in a way that -- in a lot of the ways that ronald reagan did is really
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important. but these are things that i think the party can look at to improve in the years to come and that's what this committee is going to do. >> one final thing, because we're almost out of time, dick armey, the former house majority leader republican, he said this. >> we had a lot of candidates, quite frankly, who did dumb things out there. i don't think the republican party schools their candidates very well or supported their candidates very well. >> and i guess that's what your commission, your advisers are now going to come up with, how better to school candidate. is that right? >> well, i think that's important. absolutely. but, you know, there's a lot of entities involved in that and the rnc cannot necessarily pick winners and losers. look, all members of this team could do a better job of training, better job of communicating. but at the end of the day, wolf, we have to put together the mechanics and the infrastructure
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necessary so that four years from now we have absolutely the best possible product that's not as good as the democrats but better so that a presidential nominee can plug in to something that i think is going to be vastly improved. >> reince priebus is the chairman of the republican party. reince, thanks for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. we're getting new details about that mexican plane crash that killed a latina superstar. we're learning about the company that owned the aircraft and including why the company's planes were seized earlier this year by federal marshals. what's your name? joanne. with the hundreds that i save with progressive on my car insurance, this tree is on me. no way. way. this tree is on me. really?! yes. aah! let me just trim it up a little bit for you. [ buzzing ] thank you. saving's greetings. you guys are gonna get this tree right here? are you sure that's the one? i'll tie it to the roof for you. make savings a new holiday tradition. ♪
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>> thanks, wolf.
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falling off the fiscal cliff, it may mean one thing to washington and something entirely different to millions of struggling americans.
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cnn's kiong la has the story. >> reporter: she could be facing at year's end a financial free fall. >> i don't know. i wish i wasn't in this situation but it is what it is and i could just do what i can. >> she lost her job as a new home sales manager on january. with an old laptop and a broken cord, she applies for jobs after job in a packed notebook, averaging 15 applications a day. at age 54, this is the first time she's ever been on unemployment. she's emptied out her savings account and now the emergency jobless program has kept her in her townhome giving her $450 a week. but unless the congress and the white house acts, the money stops. >> we're not trying to live off the system.
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we're trying to survive. it's not a luxury to be on unemployment. it's a means to keep us going. >> reporter: the fear of the fiscal cliff isn't just here. from the west to the north to the south, they will be hit the hardest. some two million americans will see those federal unemployment benefits disappear all at once. economists chris thornburg says these americans are the unfortunate pawns in the game of politics and balancing. >> ultimately this is a tradeoff. the tradeoff has to be that while some people are hit painfully by reductions in federal benefits, at the same time, we have to appreciate that this deficit has to be closed. >> reporter: but at what human cost, says de bats. she's down to condiments until the next unemployment check arrives. but while we're here talking
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about the fiscal cliff, she gets an e-mail. >> yay. an interview. okay. great. okay. that is good news. >> reporter: a third interview for a sales job. if washington can't do it, maybe this job will pull her back from the cliff. >> oh, my god. you have no idea how excited i am right now. >> reporter: kyung lah, cnn, los angeles. chilling allegations about the dallas cowboys player who killed his teammate. >> he wasn't a hero and he wasn't trying to help this man. he wasn't like, help is on the way. what you would just think a friend would really do. [ singing christmas carols ] mmmm. [ female announcer ] make new traditions with pillsbury grands! cinnamon rolls.
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[ female announcer ] make new traditions of washington about the future of medicare and social security. anncr: but you deserve straight talk about the options on the... table and what they mean for you and your family. ancr: aarp is cutting through all the political spin. because for our 37 million members, only one word counts. get the facts at earnedasay.org. let's keep medicare... and social security strong for generations to come. let's say you want to get ahead how do you get from here... to here? at university of phoenix we're moving career planning forward so you can start figuring that out sooner. ln fact, by thinking about where want your education to lead, while you're still in school, you might find the best route... leads somewhere you weren't even looking.
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let's get to work.
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a witness to the aftermath
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of the crash that killed the dallas cowboys jerry brown is now speaking out. she claims brown's teammate, josh brent, is no hero. she says brent, who was arrested on suspicion of intoxication, manslaughter initially did nothing to help. more now from wfaa reporter jason whitley. >> reporter: stacy mcwilliams says she came forward to set the record straight about josh brent. >> he wasn't a hero. and he wasn't trying to help this man. this was after the police showed up. >> reporter: mcwilliams tells us that she was one of two people to drive up to the mercedes minutes after the crash. >> i'm like, are you all right? are you okay? and he's like, yeah, i'm okay and the lady in the car said, yeah, i already called 911. and then the car caught fire and she looked to him for help. i said, is there somebody in the
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car? and he was like, yeah. >> reporter: you could see the smoke rising off of the car from the cell phone picture that mcwilliams took. >> reporter: what might be one of the only images of the wreck that night. >> and i said, get him out of the car. you can't just stand here and watch this man die. pull him out of the car. and he said to me, he won't get out. i said, get him out -- kmantding him, get him out of the car. >> reporter: and josh brent did. mcwilliams said that he pulled a bradley injured brown out into the road as police pulled up. >> and then even after he pulled him out of the car, he wasn't like, hang in there man, help is on the way or what you would just think a friend would really do. >> reporter: mcwilliams first contacted the dallas morning news on monday to reveal what she saw, saying she wasn't close enough to brent to determine whether he had been drinking but the 40-year-old irving woman said police never took her
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statement because she did not witness the accident itself. >> that report from our affiliate wfaa reporter. jerry brown's family tells cnn that brown and brent were like brothers and the best of friends. what a tragic story. meanwhile, investigators have found human remains at the mexican crash site where the latina superstar jenni rivera is believed to have been killed. her family is still holding on to hope. meanwhile, there are are disturs about the company that owned the private plane. what are you learning? >> faa records show us more than a dozen planes are registered to this company and that includes the plane that was in the crash this weekend. a closer look into their operations turned up more questions than answers. this is the plane jenni rivera was flying on when she died. a lear jet 25 registered to starwood management, a las vegas company with a history of legal
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troubles. lawsuits say the u.s. government seized two of starwood's airplanes this year with the help of the drug enforcement administration. a suit filed by the company ensuring one of the confiscated planes says edwardo nunez who used a variety of names, was the man behind the company. the suit alleges he served time for falsifying log books and court documents said he was convicted of cocaine possession with intent to distribute. a separate suit was filed against the dea. nunez is not part of the management but was working under a power of attorney. when starwood learned it was possibly illegal for nunez to sign registration documents, the company's manager signed them. cnn attempted to reach starwood but was unsuccessful. the mexican government released the names of those on boards
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including the pilots. an faa document says that perez was 78 years old. it's not clear who was in command at the time of the crash. commercial pilots in the u.s. are only allowed to fly until they are 65 but for charter pilots there's no age limit. we asked ntsb chairwoman if this was appropriate. >> on a private side there are no limitations but there are requirements that you be medically fit. >> reporter: the investigation into what exactly happened continues and could take weeks. the ntsb is on site assisting the mexican government with this investigation. as we pointed out yesterday, the exact same plane was substantially damaged in a 2005 landing and that is certainly something that investigators are going to look back on those records and match everything up. >> when you get more, let me know. >> will do. >> thanks very much. going home to toxic home. many survivors of superstorm sandy lost it all and are now
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battling an enemy inside their own houses. when will it be safe to return if at all? that's up next. oh, let me guess --ou see this? more washington gridlock. no, it's worse -- look, our taxes are about to go up. not the taxes on our dividends though, right? that's a big part of our retirement. oh, no, it's dividends, too. the rate on our dividends would more than double. but we depend on our dividends to help pay our bills. we worked hard to save. well, the president and congress have got to work together to stop this dividend tax hike.
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here's a look at this hour's hotshots. in kuwait, people look at a 60-year-old green turtle as it crawls toward the ocean. in germany, an eiffel tower replica in the center of a shopping ball is erected and a group of choir boys hit the ice on the coldest day of the year and in ukraine, a dusting of snow covers lennon, the revolutionary figure. pictures from around the world. six weeks after superstorm
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sandy made landfall victims in places like staten island are dealing with toxic homes. experts say mold may be the top health threat facing those that are trying to rebuild. our national correspondent deborah feyerick is joining us from new york with more information. what's going on here, deb? >> you know, wolf, a number of people who have already started complaining about breathing problems and the problem is likely to only get worse. every day nancy suits up for a battle she's determined to win. >> i give myself four hours. you do both sides and the top. >> reporter: bleach, hydrogen peroxi peroxide, vinegar, even professionals have not been able to kill the flood in the wake of sandy's floodwaters. >> i'm trying to stay ahead of it. >> reporter: thousands of volunteers from world care center have been gutting houses ripping out floors, walls and
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insulation if not cleaned properly mold continues to grow and can make people very sick. >> it's everywhere. >> reporter: dan has seen it before. the mold can multiply and become a toxic situation. >> reporter: he travels the country with an organization that helps people affected by hurricanes and floods. people will get sick. >> you will see upper respiratory issues and allergies going on. you hear about the sandy cough. >> reporter: those mold related illnesses can trigger an epidem epidemic. >> i think there's quite a bit of concern now about this looming public health crisis which is what we're dealing with in terms of mold infestation in many homes damaged by water. >> reporter: the new york city health department is tracking emergency room visits and says following a spike immediately after the storm the rate of breathing illnesses seems to have stabilized.
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>> looming public health crisis may be too strong a term. it's a health risk. >> reporter: getting rid of the mold is key. still, not everybody knows how to do it properly. this is a professional mold remediation company. he says people on staten island have been coming up to him desperate to know how to clean the mold out of their homes. some of them don't have insurance and they don't have the money to pay for it. he says a lot of people here are going to start getting very, very sick. mold has taken over ann marie's home now too dangerous to enter. >> the house is covered in mold like three feet up the wall. the basic ceiling is all green and fuzzy. >> reporter: does the new york city health department have a responsibility or obligation to the folks affected by the hurricane to sign off and say your home is safe to live in? >> the building department is signing off on whether the house is structurally safe. there's not any one test that can say the mold levels in this
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house are too high or too low. >> reporter: some people have nowhere else to go. what they are doing is living in partially gutted homes and by so doing they are exposing themselves to mold. they are waiting until it's dry and safe enough to put walls and insulation back up and fix doors to keep out cold and damp. it's a problem that goes to continue for many, many months. >> deborah feyerick with that story. thanks very much. massive protests as unions take a body blow in their own backyard. a new movie has controversy surrounding around the cia analyst credited with finding osama bin laden and a sex abuse verdict topples the wall of secrecy that surrounded an ultraorthodox jewish sect. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." first this just coming into cnn. word that michigan's governor
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has just signed a law that many believe will significantly weaken union power in the state. one of the organized labor movements few remaining strongho strongholds. there was massive protests as lawmakers approved a so-called right to work law which allows members to forego paying dues. poppy harlow is in lansing in the state capital for us. you just spoke to the governor about all of this. what did he tell you? >> reporter: well, i spoke with the governor just ahead of that announcement where he confirmed that he indeed did sign this legislation into lawmaking michigan a right to work state. a sea change for this state, wolf. the governor saying this is a "opportunity" to stand up for workers and flying in the face of what many of those workers think thousands and thousands storming the capitol here in lansing today. history made in michigan state capitol to the tune of furious
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protestors. reverend jesse jackson joined in saddened and led a prayer. michigan passed right to work legislation making it illegal to mandate workers join a union or pay money to a union. >> not good for the economy. i don't know what they're thinking. >> reporter: from public school teachers to autoworkers, the fear is lower wages, fewer benefits, and less bargaining power. >> our parents, our grandparents and our great grandparents struggled and fought and some even died to have the right to organize for better safety, better wages, better benefits for their children. >> reporter: are you two concerned that your union is next? that you might be subject to something like this? >> we always have that concern. >> reporter: protesters moved from the capitol and sat in at the entry to republican governor rick schneider's office and then police removed the media. >> this is about maintaining democracy in america.
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>> reporter: the symbolism is perhaps just as important as the measure itself. does this mean the beginning of a death of unions in this country? are you concerned that is this big symbolically? >> i think that we're waking the sleeping giants. workers and working families are tired of losing. they want a fair share of the prosperity of this state and this country. >> it puts a spotlight on the decline of unionship in america. today it is less than 12%. most union workers oppose the right to work bills, not all do. >> this is going to be good for the economy and bring jobs to michigan. >> reporter: brian has worked at ford as a union member for 16 years. for the past two, he's been fighting to help pass the right to work legislation for this reason. >> it will give me a voice. it will give me leverage inside the union. now if i threaten to resign from the union, i'm taking my union dues with me. under current law i can resign
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but i still have to pay the union so they don't care. >> reporter: wolf, that is a minority view among union workers in michigan certainly but it is the new law of the land in this state as of just a few minutes ago tonight. governor rick snyder saying he didn't seek out timing of this passage. he's come under harsh criticism for rushing it through the legislature. it was introduced and passed last week. the governor standing by saying there will be no public signing noting what a decisive issue this is in the state of michigan. i want to point out that it was just recently that governor rick snyder said that right to work was not on his agenda and tonight he signed it into law. >> dramatic historic change in the state of michigan. thank you very much. michigan is now the 24th right to work state. you can see the laws are prevalent in the south and west. until recently supporters had been unable to get a foot hold in the upper midwest and
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northeast but now michigan is added to the list. indiana was recently added sw e well. kate bolduan is looking at other important stories we're following right now. >> in egypt fresh protests on both sides and new controversy ahead of a critical vote on a new egyptian constitution this saturday. mohamed morsi amended a law so that voters cannot cast their ballots as they have in the past. look at the video of the protests in cairo. reza sayah visited both sides of the protest. >> reporter: this could be the final rounds of what has been a brutal and violent political battle that has supporters of president morsi taking on opponents of president morsi. on tuesday both sides in this conflict called for mass demonstrations. the opposition gathered here
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outside of the presidential palace. >> he doesn't care about the country. >> i think he's thinking only in the muslim interest. >> reporter: 20 minutes ago in this neighborhood it was rivals and supporters of president morsi who gathered in mass. >> i believe our president. >> i accept all of the decisions of the president. >> reporter: last time they met clashes led to 700 people being injured. several people killed. thankfully other than some fireworks, things are peaceful and calm. the final bell for this conflict could sound on saturday. the day egypt votes for its new constitution and that's what's at stake here. egypt's constitution. the foundation of post-revolutionary egypt. >> morsi! >> reporter: the opposition which includes a lot of liberals and moderates say they were pushed out of the process by
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which this constitution was drafted. many don't want saturday's vote to take place. >> i want the democratic way. the way that we want. i don't want the rules to be imposed on you. i don't want this constitution. >> reporter: the president's supporters say the opposition doesn't like the constitution, the best solution to the conflict is for them to go out and vote no. >> this is a democracy. democracy if anything goes by vote. >> we all must go to say yes or no. >> you can really hear the passion and frustration in all of their voices. reza sayah is joining me live from cairo. reza, this week the president backed off that decree that he faced a lot of criticism about giving him sweeping powers but the protests continue. the vote is scheduled for saturday. does it look like it will happen as scheduled? >> reporter: all indications are. you get the impression that opposition faction, opponents of the president are running out of
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options. is looks like this referendum is going to happen and beyond protests it doesn't look like the opposition factions can do much else. big day for them tomorrow. that's when opposition leaders are set to hold a press conference and announce their decision if they're going to take part in the referendum. if they say yes, look for that to take a lot of steam out of these protesters who have been going at it for nearly three weeks. it could also diffuse the conflict as well. kate? >> sounds like even early into the morning there the protests and the commotion continues right there behind you. reza sayah in cairo for us. thank you so much. >> house republicans send a new fiscal cliff offer to the white house. we're going to talk about the looming crisis with the former treasury secretary robert rubin. plus, the real live controversy dogging the cia analyst. she's the subject of a new movie about the raid that killed osama bin laden. >> the whole world is going to want to know this. now with a fancy coating that gives you a burst of wildberry flavor. now why make a flavored heartburn pill?
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this just coming into "the situation room." dan lottian is reporting that the president of the united states and the house speaker spoke on the phone just a little while ago after house republican leaders sent over a counteroffer to the white house on the fiscal cliff negotiations. we don't know what's in the counteroffer. we don't know what president obama and john boehner actually discussed. we only know that they did have a phone conversation which potentially could be a sign of some progress. we're monitoring what's going on. earlier in the day the house speaker john boehner accused the president of deliberately holding up negotiations by refusing to provide details of his cost savings plan. >> where are the president's spending cuts? the longer the white house slow walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff. >> let's get more with the former treasury secretary during the clinton administration robert rubin joining us now.
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mr. secretary, thanks very much for coming in. >> happy to be here, wolf. >> where are the white house proposals for spending cuts? i know they want to spend a lot of time in terms of raising tax revenues but why not come up with a specific plan for what the republicans say they now need spending cuts. >> basically the president has laid out where he wants to be on spending. we have to have significantly greater revenues and if you're going to avoid middle income tax increases in one fashion or another, most has to come from raising rates on the top two brackets and that's what president obama proposed. in terms of the spending side, they enacted a trillion and a half of reductions and what's called discretionary part of the budget. he has proposed reductions in entitlements as you know and the budget that he's put out. and then there's substantial savings on interest on the debt that would be incurred if we didn't have deficit reduction and then finally the other big piece of this is the spending that we'll not have to have as they continue with the withdrawal from afghanistan. if you put it together, he has 4
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trillion from deficit reduction and stabilizes the budget which would be a tremendous accomplishment for the country in terms of confidence and job creation now and recovery now and meeting long-term imperative. he has put pieces out. >> republicans say that's not good enough. a lot of those proposed cuts are already in place. they were announced a while ago. they want more. >> well, wolf, those reductions, if you will, in the discretionary part of the budget were indeed enactsenacted last and have been part of this budget discussion and part of the effort to get and imperat e imperatively important to get 4 trillion in deficit reduction and that piece of the budget is, i think, without question been in place and been recognized for quite some time. i think the biggest issue remains the one of revenues and where they're going to come from and if you are going to avoid middle income tax increases they can only come from one place and
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that's increasing rates and if you do all this and this is a point that's too often is missed, you get yourself on a sound fiscal path, not only is that imperative because our long-term fiscal trajectory is unsustainable and dangerous but also i think it contributes substantially to confidence in the short-term and you can give yourself even some fiscal room for moderate stimulus if you want to. it's very important in short-term and long-term. >> you say raising tax rates for the wealthy important. the president is proposing $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenue. if you increase the tax rate on the wealthiest that will bring in $400 billion. where is 1.2 trillion going to come from? >> if you take all of the increase -- if you take reversal of bush tax cuts not only rates but a number of capital gains and dividend reductions that have taken place under president bush, you put all of those together and it comes out to 900 billion. i think closer to a trillion.
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between 900 billion and a trillion and that's without counting interest that you save by reducing future deficit. gets them to give or take two-thirds of the total revenue that he needs and the rest of that would come from reducing deductions and preferences for the people in the top two brackets and his theory of the case is that we've had increasing income and equality for a long time in this country. we need to reduce our deficit. it's imperatively important that we do that and have resources for public investment and revenue resources should come from the most affluent in our society who have been the greatest beneficiaries of the increased inequality. >> do you want a cap on charitable contributions or home mortgage deductions? >> what president obama has proposed is we put a 28% cap on all deductions except as i recollect the health care exclusion. i think that's probably right. each of us would do that somewhat differently.
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i would probably not do that for charitable contributions. i think on the whole turning that deduction into a credit is sensible because the way it's set up right now the most affluent get the greatest benefit from the deductions and least affluent get the least benefit. it's the reverse that you want to have in a tax code. >> and in your proposal that you signed on together with the center for american progress, a liberal think tank in washington, you want additional taxes on tobacco, alcohol and gambling. those are pretty regressive taxes. >> there was a different theory there. they are very small in totality. these are all activities that many ways are considered to be at least socially questionable so they have been the source of revenues for a long time both at the federal level and the state and local levels. the effect which is the point
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you're making, distribution of the revenue increases that we need is really not affected by those numbers. they're too small. >> if those taxes went up, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, poor people and middle class families would suffer more as a result of those higher taxes than rich people. >> those taxes would probably affect middle income people more than others but as i say, those are very small numbers relative to the overall plan. the overall distribution of the revenue burden to the most affluent is not affected by those numbers, number one. number two, those taxes only incurred if you voluntary undertake those activities unlike the tax code more generally in which you pay taxes on the segment of your income. this is an activity that has extra cost associated with it. >> who would you like to see as the next treasury secretary? we know tim geithner is moving on. >> i would like to see as the next treasury secretary whoever
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the president picks but let me just say if i may one comment on that. it is a broad and complex job and i think that while it is certainly possible you could find somebody who never had been in washington to do that job, that's an absolute possibility, i think there are many advantages to having someone who has had washington experience but if the president would choose to go out of that, that range of people, he could find people who have not had that experience. i think there's an advantage in having had it. >> thank you very much for joining us. appreciate it. >> i've been delighted to be with you, wolf. >> we're getting new information here in "the situation room" right now perhaps some compromise negotiating positions in the works. our senior congressional correspondent dana bash is quoting a democratic source as telling cnn that the president remains committed to making sure that that highest tax rate goes up. the 35% tax rate which is right now the bush tax cut.
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he wanted it originally to go back to where it was during the clinton administration, 39.6%. potentially could be something short, she says, quoting this democratic source of 39.6. maybe something between 35% and 37%. maybe that's something that could work out. >> balancing off of that, i'm told today by a democratic source that the white house had brought an offer earlier this week on monday to speaker boehner who they were asking for 1.4 trillion in revenue. that's lower obviously than the 1.6 trillion we've been discussing that was their original ask in terms of the revenue number. so you are seeing movement but how the numbers all work out and where the numbers are in terms of spending cuts and entitlement reform obviously they're not in agreement yet. >> there will have to be flexibility on both sides. they'll have to hold their nose and make a concession if there's going to be an agreement. >> they're talking. >> good idea. >> still ahead, a very serious
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story. explosion and huge fire involving a major gas line. look at this video. more details coming up next. [ female announcer ] caroline penry began using olay total effects in 2001. and one wedding, 2 kids, 43 bottles of olay total effects and many birthdays later, still looks amazing. thanks to the trusted performance of olay.
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a major gas line exploded in west virginia. kate has that with other top stories. >> video is amazing. massive flames from the gas pipeline explosion forced authorities to shut down almost a mile of interstate 77 in both directions. that's about 15 miles north of charleston, west virginia's state capital. one said the explosion sounded like a jet engine. no reports of injuries so far but the fire has engulfed several buildings.
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one of the biggest u.s. government bailouts of the 2008 financial crisis is coming to a close with what some might call an unlikely and welcome finish. the treasury department agreed to sell the last of its shares in aig and the numbers are in. the government says it will make $22.7 billion. in massachusetts, seems to be a sign of the times. drivers will be saying good-bye to that human touch at the toll booth. the state plans to eliminate toll plazas and collectors and switch to an electronic system. can't tell if people will be upset or happy with that. >> they have the drive pass. >> easy pass type of thing. >> or they have a credit card or whatever. >> exactly. >> loss of jobs for people. >> sign of the times. >> stuff happens. the woman who played a key role in finding osama bin laden is now embroiled in a new controversy. the new film "zero dark 30" tells part of the story. we'll have the rest. that's next.
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happening now. the woman who played a critical role in finding osama bin laden immortalized in a film and embroiled in new controversy at the cia. they are called the three amigos. senator john mccain, joe lieberman and a new interview that is lively. and a jewish sect blasting the doors open on their closed world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." a new movie chronicles the hunt for osama bin laden. >> there's a real life drama swirling around the cia analyst who helped locate the world's most wanted terrorist. >> our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is joining us now. she has details. what have you learned? >> haven't we seen this
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situation before? first someone is labeled hero and then the talk begins. >> there are two narratives about the location of osama bin laden. >> reporter: behind the character hollywood it girl portrays in the new movie "zero dark 30." >> this is an incredible woman. >> reporter: there is a controversy real woman. the cia analyst who by many accounts was instrumental in finding where osama bin laden was hiding. >> everybody describes her as a very headstrong and even combative personality at times. >> reporter: "the washington post" reporter greg miller says the cia targeting expert who found bin laden has become a target herself. >> she has wrangled colleagues in scuffles over credit for the operation. >> reporter: former navy s.e.a.l. who was part of the raid described her in a "60 minutes" interview. >> i can't give her enough credit. in my opinion she kind of teed
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up this whole thing. wicked smart. feisty. >> she received a cash bonus for her work but felt slighted. >> she got a more prestigious award than most but nevertheless was put out basically that others were included on the list. >> reporter: the cia insists no single person found bin laden telling cnn, "hundreds of analysts, operators and many others played key roles in the hunt." but there are questions to be answered. >> she also is under some scrutiny for her interactions with the filmmakers as part of a broader inquiry at the agency. >> reporter: whatever happened, the cia analyst was not promoted. >> it was stunning to a lot of people inside the cia that this person who played such an important role in such an historic mission was blocked from getting a basic promotion. >> reporter: former case officer
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wonders if the cia still can't cope with a supposedly prickly personality from a woman. >> if you did run down bin laden, i don't care what your personality is like. you should immediately get promoted. >> reporter: now, greg miller also points out that she does have many supporters still at the agency. the cia has still never announced it but they do have a panel of retired experts looking at this very question. why women are not aggressively being promoted. aggressively being promoted to more senior positions and this has been a problem that has dogged the cia for years even though plenty of women over the years worked on that hunt for bin laden. wolf? >> serious question. thank you very much for that. let's get more right now with our cnn national security analyst peter bergen and fran townsend, a member of the cia's external advisory board. how unusual that is a cia
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analyst is getting so much press attention right now especially because we don't even know her name. >> you know, wolf, this really runs against the culture of the cia. i can't tell you during my career limited to my time in the white house i was there five years how often the cia would enjoy a success that never becomes public. it's a culture that prides itself on success at its mission and the successes are enjoyed inside the family if you will. on one occasion we actually had a team who had been operationally successful. it never became public. to brief the president was a privilege to them. they had their picture taken with them and thanked them and it never became public. this publicity to a single member, their successes are team successes. she may have been instrumental over a long period of time but i suspect that history will find that there were many people who were working on that issue over a period of time and so it is
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countercultural to have one individual singled out. >> we know that you cooperated with the filmmakers. >> they asked me for an opinion on an early cut of the film. >> you gave your opinion. should the cia analyst have cooperated with them? >> that was a decision that was made way above her pay grade. that was a decision made by the cia, the managers of the cia. i mean, certainly any agency of the u.s. government which has a big success would probably want an accurate portrayal of that success. i think that was why the filmmakers met with this particular woman. as fran points out, there is actually -- there were men involved in this. it isn't just a female agent that did everything. the film suggests that a female agent played an essential role. there's another person that goes by the name of john who has some press attention in the past who was equally important so let's
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be accurate about this. >> fran, i want to ask you, i want to read a quote to you that was in this "the washington post" piece from a former cia official describing the environment at the agency. this is what the quote says. "the agency is a funny place. very insular. it's like middle schoolers with clearances." i want to get your take on that how does the cia culture play into this controversy surrounding this woman now? >> no question it's a very insular place by its very nature. they keep secrets. they have secret missions and secret goals. they achieve some. they are less successful with others. it's a very insular organization. i must tell you, when i read the quote, i not only cringed but i was offended. this notion of equating to middle school with clearances, look, these are people who work in the shadows. it's their choice to work in the shadows. but they do some very important work without which we wouldn't enjoy the military successes
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that we've enjoyed and diplomatic successes. their work is crucial. to equate this to a middle school squabble undermines the importance of the mission and dedication of the people out there. >> and when you look at this, you now have the movie. you have books. there are specials out. everyone very much interested in looking at this raid to kill osama bin laden. there is also a lot of criticism of that. do you think this raid has been overexposed? do you think this latest episode and the other stories about the raid and the detail becoming public about the raid, has it hurt our intelligence gathering abroad in the future. >> i may not be the best person to answer that having written a book on the subject. we spent half a trillion dollars on our intelligence since 9/11 and the whole point of the war on terror was ultimately finding osama bin laden. the american taxpayers spent a lot of money on this. i think the fact that the press attention is merited by the sacrifices and money that's been spent. also at the end of the day it's
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an american success story. there's controversy surrounding this but i think attention is merited and deserved. >> peter bergen, thanks very much. fran townsend, thanks to you as well. a rare sitdown interview with the senate trio dubbed the three amigos. they talk to piers morgan. we talk to piers. [ female announcer ] if you care for someone with mild to moderate alzheimer's, you'll also care about our new offer. you get access to nurses who can help with your questions. and your loved one can get exelon patch free for 30 days. if the doctor feels it's right for them.
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republican senator john mccain confirms he's seeking a spot on the senate foreign relations committee. that would give him a prime position to grill the u.s. ambassador to the united nations susan rice if president obama nominates her to be the next secretary of state. mccain and his senate colleagues joe lieberman and lindsey graham
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sat down with piers morgan today. they are sometimes called the three amigos. >> it's christmas coming. what would you most like politically as a gift. if the president destbestowed y with a gift, what would it be? >> i think all americans, a resolution of the issue of the fiscal cliff so people can live next year with a sense of predictability, with a sense that they will have a growing economy and peace in the world. >> and a place on this committee? >> i think it would be fun to do. >> i take this as a yes. >> piers is joining us now here in "the situation room." good to have you. >> such an honor to be here in your extraordinary empire. >> let's talk a little bit about senator mccain. do you think he wants to be on the foreign relations committee in part because of potential susan rice nomination as secretary of state? >> i think that and also the three of them have immersed themselves in foreign policy for so long.
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he's an expert in the field. he really enjoys it and thinks he can contribute a lot to that particular committee. they were great together. it's like meeting -- it's like zz top. one of them goes and we have a woman coming in. this is like bringing in -- i don't know -- katy perry. they are great friends. great senators. and they had a lot to say about america. >> i also want to get your impression of these three men. you don't often get -- they are often all together. they are referred to as the three amigos of foreign policy but they don't always sit down together. what was your impression of them? what surprised you of them now that their time is short. lieberman is retiring. >> lindsay graham said he had just been to see "lincoln" the movie and if you believe what happens in the movie that's pretty close to the truth had really been quite bipartisan and brought people together to get a really important thing done. the abolition of slavery. they all felt their own relationship is how it can work
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in washington. proper bipartisan friendship that gets things done. they all agreed that for whatever reason it isn't like that right now. it needs to move that way. i got an impression talking to them that republicans are about to rollover on the tax issue and let obama have his way. he's not going to give up on it. they believe that it's the kind of feeling i was getting but we're going to have the mother of all battles over the debt ceiling. come february, i think it's going to be brutal. i think that's why republicans will dig in. that's my reading. >> these three guys when it comes to raising the debt ceiling, i suspect in the end they understand the credit worthiness of the united states is at stake if they don't. >> it is. also something has to be done. something has to give eventually. you can't keep raising debt ceilings and raising debt generally in america and expect anything economic to improve. if you look at countries as lindsey graham said, look at greece and countries like that, you don't want america to be
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plunged into that almost insolvable crisis. they were sensible and very funny together. a lot of very quiet exchanges with me about the constitution about gay rights and gun control and obviously i come from a country where almost everything is federal in the terms of you have a law for a country. i said in gay marriage, are you going to have a situation with guns where almost every state has different regulations. is it not time in america, perhaps truly was united on these big issues which in the end are about fairness and equality as with gay rights. they weren't having any of that. it gets lively. >> the full interview tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern. "piers morgan tonight." please come back and visit. >> this is why you get the bond movies and i end up with denzel castoffs. >> some days you may be in a james bond movie too. >> the worst moment of my career was taking my wife to see the
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bond movie and see your head rear up as the star of the film. >> some day. >> i am seeing the president tonight. >> have fun. enjoy. we are just getting this in. the president granted an interview to abc news in which he predicts republicans eventually will agree that 98% of american taxpayers won't have a tax hike. i'm pretty confident, the president says, that republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to try to protect tax cuts for high income individuals. if that holds, there could be a deal. president expressing optimism they are moving closer. he also said that he now recognizes the syrian opposition forces as the legitimate representatives of the syrian people. listen to this. >> we made a decision that the syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is
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reflective and representative enough of the syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the syrian people. >> sitting down with barbara walters for that annual christmas interview at the white house. making news in the process. >> making news and acknowledging him saying that's a very big step and also talking about later in the interview about the fact that they designated a terrorist organization and they have to make a distinction between the two groups. a conviction in a horrible series of crimes is shedding new light on a private jewish sect in new york city. in that time there've been some good days. and some difficult ones. but, through it all, we've persevered, supporting some of the biggest ideas in modern history. so why should our anniversary matter to you? because for 200 years, we've been helping ideas move from ambition to achievement. and the next great idea could be yours.
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private leader in jewish
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ultraorthodox community has been convicted of dozen of child sex abuse counts. >> this could be a turning point for a private group of people. mary snow has been looking into this and joining us now from new york. it's such a sad story. what are you learning? >> some are saying they never thought they would see a case like this even go to trial. now brooklyn district attorney had come under scrutiny with questions raised about whether he did as much as possible to prosecutor claims of sex abuse in this ultra orthodox community. he's now saying a veil of secrecy has been lifted. in this brooklyn enclave, strict rules dictate just about everything the men and women of this jewish community do. it is home to a sect known for being closed off to outsiders. that's why the conviction of a respected member, a 54-year-old, is seen as so significant among sex abuse victims. he was accused of sexually abusing a young girl for over
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three years and was found guilty on 59 counts against him. >> i look at this as a new era for the jewish religious community. >> reporter: weberman was hired as a counselor by the girl's parents when she began challenging strict rules at the age of 12. he denied any abuse. his support from the community was so strong, a fund-raiser was held for him that was met with protests. the brooklyn district attorney charged four men in june with trying to bribe the victim who is now 18 to keep quiet with half a million dollars. they have pled not guilty. the district attorney praised the woman for her courage in coming forward. this trial also went beyond sex abuse allegations and exposed practices of an insular community known for its secrecy. among them is the use of so-called modesty councils. >> it's just kind of common knowledge in the community that these squads exist. you hear about them from when you're very little. they're touted as a means to get people to behave like you better
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behave or they will come after you. so we all know that they're there. in fact, they almost attain a sort of mystique and just sort of communal fear. >> reporter: 26-year-old deborah feldman grew up in the community but broke out as a young adult and wrote "unorthodox" about growing up in williamsburg. >> ostensibly what modesty squads are looking for is forbidden music, books, magazines, forbidden internet access devices like computers or smartphones. they're looking maybe for love letters or for photographs. >> reporter: she hopes the verdict will prompt others to speak out about abuse without fear of retaliation. others in the community remain convinced weberman is not guilty and his lawyer plans to appeal. now, cnn has reached out to members of the community but none was willing to talk. on a separate note tonight, police in new york say they're investigating an attack in williamsburg, brooklyn on an
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outspoken advocate of sex abuse victims. he says a man approached him today on the street and threw bleach in his eyes. he was taken to the hospital. wolf? >> so sad. mary, thank you so much. >> very sad story indeed. erin burnett is on assignment. ashleigh banfield is sitting in along with a u.s. senator who is running out of patience waiting for answers about the september 11th attack in benghazi. ashleigh, tell us more. >> you nailed it, wolf. it is an unfortunate milestone if you count the days. we're at three months now, three months since that attack that killed our ambassador and three others in benghazi, and you're not missing anything if you haven't seen the news about the arrests and convictions and even any cases. nothing. no one has been brought to justice yet. it does not help that the libyan government, wolf, has not been particularly cooperative with our folks over there, and here is one of the hooks that you may not believe. the fbi has now taken to facebook and twitter, facebook and twitter, looking for any kinds of tips or leads or
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anything they might be able to get on this case, because it is just too difficult on the ground to get the help they need. and like you said, senator sitting on the foreign relations committee will talk a little about how this is sitting with that committee and one particular senator working his way to get on to that committee. we'll explain all of that coming up next on "outfront." >> we'll be watching at the top of the hour. thanks very much. still ahead, it is holiday party season. jeanne moos has tips on what you need to watch out for. [ female announcer ] imagine skin so healthy, it never gets dry again.
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during this holiday season, madcap antics can certainly get you into trouble. >> yes. but in great britain, they are catching them on tape to try to keep people safe.
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here's jeanne moos. >> reporter: britain's rail service presents -- how not to go up an escalator. watch this woman seem to get her high heel stuck. next thing you know she's on her back going up, skirt flying, shoes gone. it's network rails festive holiday safety campaign. hey, miss office party, save your best moves for negotiating the escalators in those six-inch heels. watch out for killer wheelies. luggage on wheels. the faces are blurred so as not to embarrass anybody. this is real surveillance video. the message? >> if you don't take care, this could happen to you. we don't want that to happen. >> reporter: december is a big month for accidents in train systems. what day is the most popular for falling? >> oh, it's friday. >> reporter: after a few drinks
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too many, people tend to act like this. speaking of pole dancing, look who's headlining the safety campaign. lucy v for vixen is known for being a british tabloid pin-up. >> we didn't actually know when we hired her. she's a girl about town. she wears high heels. >> reporter: sometimes nothing else. >> not in that poster. >> reporter: the folks even gave each mishap a pithy nickname. the one involving the two swingers was the pole dance crunch. the luggage face plant was the mad dash and crash. you've heard of planking, lying face down often in unusual locations? well, consider this the reverse plank. never fear, no commuters were harmed in the making of this cautionary video. it's believed even the woman sprawled on the escalator su